Have you ever had a dream where, when you wake up, you can’t shake off the feelings it has left you with? Have you ever felt compelled to double check that whoever was in that dream is ok?
For a couple of years now I have struggled to remember any of my dreams. I only remember through having one or two images from the dream the following day. And of course, a nagging feeling or emotion that I have trouble identifying. I have tried different things to work out what is going on. Why these dreams are happening the way they do, is still a mystery. It’s difficult to understand them when I remember so little.
Many different people have been in my dreams, and though I get a nagging feeling, I am usually able to contain it and move on from it without anything bad happening.
The other night, I dreamt about my ex therapist, who I started working with 15 years ago. For 5 years, we worked through many of the issues I was dealing with. We developed a brilliant therapeutic relationship, although it took me a long time to fully trust him.
I don’t remember what happened in the dream. I just knew he was there. When I woke up the following day, that worry stayed with me and he kept coming into my thoughts. This has happened before, so it wasn’t a surprising occurence that I was unfamiliar with.
A few days later, and I woke from another dream that he was in. Again, I don’t remember the content. I just remember him being in the dream, and waking up to that awful feeling. I tried, again, to dismiss it. But eventually, as the day went on, my feelings got the better of me and I emailed him to check in.
Our emails were nothing out of the ordinary. The general pleasantries having been covered, we ended up talking about our therapy days. It was interesting to hear his perspective from that time. For all this time, I have only had my own perspective and my own memories of our therapy. With a lot of those memories being vague, and some even missing, it was interesting to discuss his perspectives also.
When I think back to that time, I can see I was in such a dark and difficult place. But I never realised how deep that ran. And I never really realised how he saw things. He mentioned that he often worried that he had pushed me too much through difficult sessions. I reassured him he never did that. I remember it being much easier for me to be pushed. I struggled to simply offer up information and so there were many times where he did have to push me, where he had to ask me questions in order to get anything out of me. There were days where I was just so overwhelmed by emotions that I would shut down. Not just mentally either; I would feel physically paralysed. Sometimes I could hear him asking me questions, trying to help me ground myself, trying to get me to move my eyes, to stop that fixed stare. And even though I could hear him, I was stuck, within myself. On the inside I was screaming for him to help me; banging on the internal walls I’d built around myself and screaming as loud as I could in the hope that he would hear me. On the outside, I was still, my eyes fixated on the same spot, unable to even nod or shake my head in response to his questions. Eventually he would help me to regain control.
I remember when he would try to reassure me that it was possible that things could improve and that I wouldn’t always feel so bad. And sometimes I would question his hope and optimism. I would reply that he was just telling me that because he would never dream of telling me that I was doomed, and that things won’t get better. Calmly, he would explain that he genuinely believed what he was saying. I never believed him and I never accepted his hope or allowed him to express it without biting back at him. Though I do know that he meant everything he said in that regard; he really did believe that I had hope of moving forward from the trauma I’d experienced.
In his own words he recently described me as being, all those years ago, ‘tormented’, ‘closed down’ and ‘hard to reach out to’. And in retrospect I see that 100%. He also told me that he didn’t know if I would survive, which made me realise how lucky I was. I was lucky to have not purposely killed myself. And I was even luckier that I didn’t accidentally kill myself through self-harm, overdosing, ligaturing. My life could have been wiped out and I wouldn’t be here today to share my experiences. And now, 15 years on from when I first met this person, I can happily say he was right. His fear that I may not have survived was very real and he had good reason to have the concern. I don’t think he was the only one with that worry.
When you are in the midst of depression and other mental health problems, it is near impossible to ever believe you can get through it and have a better life.
I am living proof that it is possible to survive. Never be afraid of reaching out when you are struggling. There will always be somebody who is willing to help, support and guide you. I would give anyone my time if they needed it or asked for it. Plenty of people have given me their time throughout my life when I needed it. And I believe that is partly why I am still here today.
You never need to suffer alone❤️